The Pentagon has quietly eliminated troop statistics for Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria from its website, according to the Military Times. The Department of Defense's quarterly troop statistics, released in December, now has blank spaces for those Middle Eastern countries.
The Military Times in December reported that the now-missing Defense Manpower Data Center data showed the U.S. had 26,000 troops total in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria — more than 15,000 troops in Afghanistan, more than 1,700 in Syria, and nearly 9,000 in Iraq. Now, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have an asterisk by their names, denoting, "With ongoing operations any questions concerning DoD personnel strength numbers are deferred to OSD Public Affairs/Joint Chiefs of Staff." The statistics on those countries are now also missing from the September 2017 report.
The Defense Manpower Data Center has yet to release its most recent quarterly report, which is late.
President Trump Trump has expressed his desire to pull out of Syria, but no timetable for any such move has emerged, and Mr. Trump is mulling over his options for responding to a suspected Syria chemical weapons attack that the Trump administration believes was carried out by Syrian President , perhaps further complicating any troop changes. Mr. Trump on Tuesday called off his first trip as president to South America to focus on a Syria response.
"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world," Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday. "President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price ... to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"
Mr. Trump is expected to announce his response to the chemical attack soon.